Radical: The Science, Culture, and History of Breast Cancer in America

Little, Brown Spark. Oct. 2019. 304p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780316470322. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780316470339. HEALTH
Healthcare writer Pickert (journalism, Loyola Marymount Univ.) documents being diagnosed and treated for breast cancer, and chronicles the historical medical time line and challenges of the current medical establishment around this type of cancer. The author covers screening, diagnosis (types of breast cancer), treatments, the doctors’ role, understanding medical statistics, reconstruction, and the increasing involvement of nonprofits. She further highlights several currently contentious issues, such as whether to screen and when, and the sometimes starkly different treatment protocols chosen by practitioners on the East and West Coasts. Pickert believes the mixed messages patients receive on these topics are counterproductive. The underlying message is for patients to be their own advocates in the swirl of their personal medical journey. This is a helpful book for learning about the general history of cancer treatment developments and specialists’ best practices.
VERDICT Combining historical research, interview information, and personal accounts, Pickert creates a well-rounded and informative overview of breast cancer and its many treatments. Her book leaves readers hoping that progress will continue in a positive direction.
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